SPPL2a and SPPL2b promote intramembrane proteolysis of TNFalpha in activated dendritic cells to trigger IL-12 production

Nat Cell Biol. 2006 Aug;8(8):843-8. doi: 10.1038/ncb1440. Epub 2006 Jul 9.


Homologues of signal peptide peptidase (SPPLs) are putative aspartic proteases that may catalyse regulated intramembrane proteolysis of type II membrane-anchored signalling factors. Here, we show that four human SPPLs are each sorted to a different compartment of the secretory pathway. We demonstrate that SPPL2a and SPPL2b, which are sorted to endosomes and the plasma membrane, respectively, are functional proteases that catalyse intramembrane cleavage of tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha). The two proteases promoted the release of the TNFalpha intracellular domain, which in turn triggers expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-12 by activated human dendritic cells. Our study reveals a critical function for SPPL2a and SPPL2b in the regulation of innate and adaptive immunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases / genetics
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology
  • Dendritic Cells / drug effects*
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Endosomes / drug effects
  • Endosomes / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Hydrolysis / drug effects
  • Interleukin-12 / biosynthesis*
  • Intracellular Membranes / drug effects*
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • RNA Interference
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Isoenzymes
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-12
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases
  • signal peptidase II